China’s Tiangong-1 spacecraft has been flying above Earth, completely out of control, since September 2016. Since then, agencies around the world have been monitoring the vehicle, trying to project where it will crash.

Experts have now narrowed the date and location of Tiangong-1’s return.

An out-of-control Chinese space station with ‘highly toxic’ chemicals onboard that is currently hurtling toward earth may crash into lower Michigan, it has been revealed.

It is believed China’s first prototype station, Tiangong-1, will come crashing back to the planet around April 3, experts say.

US research organization Aerospace Corporation revealed that parts of southern Lower Michigan are among the regions that have the highest probability of being hit by falling debris…

The potential landing spots are actually substantially more vast than the Great Lakes Region.

The map below shows the relative probabilities of debris landing within a given region. Yellow indicates locations that have a higher probability while green indicates areas of lower probability. Blue areas have zero probability of debris reentry since Tiangong-1 does not fly over these areas (north of 42.7° N latitude or south of 42.7° S latitude).

Theoretically, if the vehicle crashes into a populated area, a lot of damage could occur. Unless it hits Detroit, where the debris field will blend right in with the local landscape.

The spacecraft was historic for China, as it was its first space station.

It was launched in September 2011 and was designed to last about two years. On March 21, 2016 China said it terminated its “data service” with Tiangong-1, allowing it to eventually fall back to Earth. The Aerospace Coporation says “amateur satellite trackers have been tracking Tiangong-1 and claim it has been orbiting uncontrolled since at least June 2016.”

And now we await its arrival back to Earth, in pieces. It weights 18,740 pounds (about 8 tons) and is about 34 feet in length and 11 feet wide. There are two solar panels on it, too.

Before Tiangong slams back to Earth, there will be chances for avid sky watchers to view it.

This week through the middle of next (about March 13th), the doomed station will make 1–3-minute-long passes during convenient evening viewing hours. Tiangong 1’s magnitude will vary from as bright as 0.2 to as faint as 4 depending on the altitude of the pass. The higher, the brighter.

After the 13th (give or take), the satellite will move into the daytime sky and then reappear at dawn sky at the end of March. The dawn run concludes about April 10th. Should Tiangong 1 still be in orbit after that date, it will return to the evening sky in mid-April.

The chances of being stuck by the debris is astronomically low, no matter where the craft lands.

However, if any piece of Tiangong-1 were to crash into a person, it wouldn’t be the first time that part of a spacecraft hit someone. In 1997, a small piece of a Delta II rocket struck Lottie Williams, a resident of Tulsa, Oklahoma, on the shoulder, according to NPR. Luckily, Williams wasn’t injured, and she remains the only person on record to be hit with a piece of human-made space debris.

That’s not to say space gear doesn’t come crashing down to Earth. Over the past 50 years, more than 5,900 tons (5,400 metric tons) of space debris has survived re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, but no incidents — except for Williams’ — have been reported, Aerospace Corporation said.

One note: The components of these vehicles can be toxic, corrosive, or present other potential hazards. In the event our friends in Michigan find debris after the crash, they should contact their local emergency response personnel.


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